The One with the Final Quiz

[Free Methodist] Bible Quizzing. Are you familiar with this concept? I wasn’t either until I started dating Kevin a few months into our freshmen year of college, and he was recounting stories of his Bible Quizzing days. Then I began attending monthly quizzes along with him as he quizmastered. I worked my way into the time-keeping position, then scorekeeping (which is WAY complicated), and just this year attempting quizmastering myself.
We spent the last 9 months challenging, studying with, and motivating (or attempting to motivate) our two teams of quizzers as they participating in monthly quiz meets. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons our teams weren’t going to attend the Bible Quiz Finals competition–joining teams from across the nation. Kevin was planning to quizmaster at the competition (meaning his costs would be covered), but I didn’t want to just spectate and pay a couple hundred dollars to do so. 
But then we heard the plea for additional quizmasters. I was in! For the past 2 days, Kevin and I have been quizmastering from 10am to 5pm. It’s ridiculously challenging. It’s quiet exhausting. But it’s very fun too! I have learned SO much in my concentrated quizmaster experience. I am grateful. I went into that first quiz with the attitude that I was confident, I could do this, I was capable. Even though I really wasn’t sure any of those statements were true. But things have worked out well, despite a few lapses in judgment and/or brain function. :) 
In the in-between times we’ve been catching up with old friends and making lots of new ones from all over the states–Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon, New York, Nevada and more. We’ve eaten FAR too much delicious food. We’ve shared a campus dorm room–a definite no-no for those years when we were students. :D I’ve gone on early morning runs. We’ve been reliving memories–walking the P loop, the time before the clock tower was built or Gainey Hall or University Hall or this cute little courtyard. It was good times we’ve had on this campus. 
And now that I’m all “experienced” at this quizmaster thing, I look forward to a new season! So long, John; bring on Hebrews and I and II Peter.  

The One with Organized Baking

Sometimes, I just need to organize
It’s amazing how cluttered one’s drawers and cupboards and hiding spaces can become over many months. Though most people would have probably still identified my baking cupboard as “organized” I knew, deep down, it needed some serious attention
I have accumulated a massive amount of baking mix-ins (mostly chocolate)–semi sweet chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, unsweetened baker’s chocolate chips, mint and chocolate chips, Hershey’s kisses, toffee brickle bits, sweetened flaked coconut, candied ginger, raisins, walnuts, pecans, almonds, and more. 
When I see a sale, I stock up. For instance, I may or may not have 4 jars of molasses. Yes, I love molasses cookies. Yes, I was baking them non-stop over the winter. Yes, they will get used eventually. Yes, each bottle was 8 cents per ounce cheaper than the other varieties. No, you may NOT make fun of me. I’ll know you’re laughing inside, though. 
In any case, I also have a frugal streak when it comes to food storage. My salsa jars, pepper jars, and pasta jars have all been washed and cleaned and used for other purposes (such as homemade salsa storage.) I won’t even mention the 6 boxes of canning jars in the basement. Oh wait, I just did. But it occurred to me in a moment of brilliance, “Why not use the abundance of jars to contain all of my bags and bags of baking ingredients?!” Bags are not easy to access or stack or organize, plus they require the use of my bag clips that seem to be a hot commodity as of late. 
And so I set to work. Mason jars went in the dishwasher and the already-clean salsa/pasta sauce jars went right to use. Now I have a highly organized cupboard and beautifully stored baking products which can be identified through the clear glass. Heck, they’re pretty enough to display on open kitchen shelves. 
I feel awesome right now. 
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The One with the Moving Conundrum

Apartment hunting is a whole lot more challenging than it would seem. Google apartment listings. Visit a few units. Choose your favorite. Move in. 
Right?
Not so much. First of all, the town we are moving to is an adorable little village, but because of its small size there aren’t any listings on apartments.com and other search sites. This limits us to Craigslist and some not-so-descriptive-Google/YellowPage-listings. 
Thankfully, we’ve been blessed beyond belief to have a new friend in our new town at our new church going above and beyond to find us the perfect place. She’s been exhausting her list of contacts, stopping by places that might be for rent, and making more phone calls than I could count. On Monday, we drove to her home and the three of us hit the ground running. 
Throughout the next 6 hours we visited 9 different apartments all across town. All of the units are portions of a large home. Many beautiful Victorian style mansions have been remodeled into 5 or 6 apartments and quite a few houses are used as duplexes or “half houses.” We didn’t look at a one stereotypical apartment complex because they’re all but non-existent. 
I love the idea of having a place that’s unique and aesthetically pleasing like some of the mansion remixes can offer. The problem with the top candidate on our list is its size. This apartment is itty bitty–especially when you consider we’ve lived in a 4 bedroom 2000 square foot house for the past three years. Yes, we’ve accumulated lots and lots of stuff to fill our spacious home. And yes, we’ve sold most everything we don’t need. (i.e. We don’t need 3 different dining room sets or 8 different comfy chairs.) It was hard to say goodbye to our things. But this particular apartment will probably only accommodate 1/3 of our remaining possessions. 
Here’s the thing–Kevin and I have come to believe this process of downsizing is a form of spiritual discipline. God is calling us to refocus and reassess our priorities and our possessions. This is a good thing. Living in a smaller, more cost-effective place will be a good thing. But I believe the Lord also values our passions, such as playing and teaching piano, playing guitar, keeping a beautiful collection of our favorite books, baking up a storm and hosting lots of parties, maintaining good records by using my organized desk space, keeping a large collection of dvds, having space for extra linens and towels in order to be a welcoming home for guests, scrapbooking and jewelry making, not to mention crocheting and knitting, and storing an exorbitant number of gorgeous (yet cheap!) purses. :)
There is still room to cut corners, of course (the purses for example.) And we’ve come to realize we simply will NOT have room for our stand-up freezer, our Christmas decorations or our camping supplies. But we’re praying the impossible. God can handle our specific needs and desires in a new place. We want to make a home for ourselves. 

Will you pray with us–for clarity, that God would reveal the place He wants us to be, that we would have wisdom on how long to wait for a new option to appear or when to decide on what we’ve seen already. 

The One with My Daddy

My dad has always been my hero. 
He’s stronger than any other dad, loves me more than I can know. 
He’s given me my passion for Italian food and snow. 
Though I’m grown and gone away, I’ll never be too old
for a hug and kiss, a helpful hand, a word on being bold. 
I know that he believes in me, tells of my success, 
And having his vote of confidence keeps me aiming for the best.
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Daddy, 
Thanks for teaching me to ride a bike, showing me how to ski, and demonstrating flips on the trampoline. You’ve taught me financial stability and frugality, but above all you’ve taught me to trust God. I could go on for hours of all the wonderful “daddy memories” I keep stored in my mind’s treasure box–a blessing I’m increasingly thankful for over the years. 
I love you and I’ll always be your little girl. 
Mellie 
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The One With Time Changes

It’s a precious thing watching as time changes so much, yet protects the most important pieces of life. God is so good. He knew seven years ago how I would be blessed year after year by this beautiful group of women who just happened to be my dorm floor-mates. Four years of college, four years of sharing bedrooms, bathrooms, favorite clothes, advice on boys, prayer, laughter, Gilmore Girls, flip flops, peanut butter, and hugs. We did everything together, became family. It was a beautiful thing to behold. 
And now, three years after we left the place that brought us together, the bonds of family are still unbroken. Distance separates us, lives get busy, contact may be put on the back burner. But no matter. I believe each of us knows deep down that we’re always there
Our evening spent together on Tuesday was so lovely. Eating, laughing, reminiscing, sharing new blessings and burdens. We’ve changed, each of us. Living on our own, learning to be married, experiencing motherhood, pursuing a passionate career. Yet maintaining our friendships through it all. 
So blessed. 
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The One with the Mother of Productivity

If I wondered before, I wonder no more. I am addicted to productivity because I am my Mother’s daughter. There are definite cons to this drive of constant accomplishment. But we won’t go into those right now. I just have to be thankful for the great team my mom and I have made these past couple of days she has spent at our house. When we’re around each other, we motivate one another and energize each other. We whistle and sing together. We organize together. We accomplish together. It’s a beautiful thing. 
Saturday morning Kevin and I worked together to get the garage set up and looking lovely for our garage sale. Despite the day’s prediction of rain, rain, rain, we were going to go ahead with the sale. Mom was up early and came to help right away. The three of us worked together to make TONS of sales from 9am to 1pm. It was a total success of a sale. 
One gentleman commented on our attractive set up by saying, “I’ve been to many garage sales, and I’ve never seen one this neat.” (Sure, he could have been making fun of my neurotic need for organization, but I’ll take it as a big compliment.) My labeling and pricing and set up system really proved worth the effort. We made nearly seven hundred dollars just over 5 hours. AMAZING. We thank God for this blessing–it will be a tremendous benefit to updating some of our furniture and helping us settle into a new home. 
Mom helped me box up leftover items, fold up tables, and regain my garage–all last night after youth group. Then today, after a car-break-down-saga, she helped me move around some dressers and consolidate more items in our house. 
Thanks, Mom, for being so awesome! We loved having you here and we both really appreciate your willingness to help. :) 

The One with the 16 Hours of Non-Stop

My mom arrived right in the middle of the chaos that was my life Thursday. (And now, I shall depict the precise reasons for the craziness.) After a cycling bike workout, starting a load and a half of laundry, and compiling a grocery list, we headed to the church to pick up 15 bags of clothes leftover from the girls clothes swap. In the meantime, we talked to Pastor Dale for a half hour and gathered up church yard signs that I was going to borrow for our garage sale posters. We loaded the car full of unwanted clothes and drove to Goodwill. We then stopped at the party store to buy a couple of totally awesome SALE! mylar balloons. 
After securing the balloons in the backseat, we headed to Meijer for the extremely essential popcorn kernels. (My pantry cannot exist without popcorn!) Aldi was our next stop and turned a bit hectic as we were checking out, I got a phone call, Kevin needed to know what card to use, and I was spilling change all over the floor. We survived and headed to our favorite farm market. 
Next we drove out of our way to stop at the only available Bank of America location–thanks a lot for closing the branch a mile and a half from our house. Who cares if we were the only people who ever used it. *wink* We deposited checks and withdrew LOT of cashola in weird denominations to assist in change making at our impending garage sale. 
We arrived home with just enough time to unload and put away all of our groceries, grab a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats with CINNAMON BUNCHES (yum!) for lunch, before heading out to the high school that’s 30 minutes away. We picked up one of our students for our meeting with them, enjoyed our time together and drove BACK home. I quickly conjured up a dinner plan and started pasta water boiling. Kevin and I had time for a bit of a “tiff” shall we say, but we were quickly back on our feet to relocate all 18 pieces of large furniture to the garage for our sale. 
In the midst of the sweat, Mom pulled in the driveway from a 3 hour drive and hit the ground running. She helped us set things up and with 30 minutes before worship team practice, we scarffed down dinner. (Italian Pasta Salad. again, YUM!)  Practice went smoothly and then came time for the first new women’s Bible Study I’m facilitating on the 2:7 Series–Growing Strong in the Family of God. Many of the ladies couldn’t make the first meeting–a bummer–but it was still successful. Mom and I spent the next 2 hours doing final pricing and organizing of the items. At 11pm (way past MY bedtime), I remembered I still had the other load and a half of laundry to finish. Joy. As I was asking Kevin if he could set up the road signs in the morning to attract traffic to the garage sale, I remembered, “I HAVEN’T MADE THE SIGNS YET!!!!”  I went to work and found out this morning I had pointed one of the arrows the wrong direction. oops. 
At this point, mom realized our bed wasn’t made. I had washed the sheets and neglected to adhere to our family’s rule-to-live-by—-always ALWAYS put sheets on your bed before anything else (because the day can get away from you and when you’re dead tired, you realize you CAN’T get into bed until it’s made.) My loving mother did a wonderful thing by making our bed for us. THANK YOU, Mom!  
And around 11:45 I went to sleep.  It was a long day.

The One with the Sleepy Rambles of the Day

I was a busy little bee today. Slept in all the way to 7am because I needed it. Couldn’t sleep last night. Too hot. Mind overfilled with racing thoughts. Finished a good run even if it was a bit slow. Starting going a million miles an hour, rushing to keep up with the tasks my brain was shuffling at me. Sweep the kitchen floor. Take down CD cover “posters” in the basement. Find all 24 missing cds. Alphabetize cds. Find a perfect box for moving the cds to their new home in NY. Showered (long after the sweat dried. grossness.) 
Ate a quick breakfast of Aldi brand Special K with Red Berries. Packed more boxes of miscellaneous items. Sat down to do my devotions (for the first time in too long. No wonder I’ve been anxious. Sorry, Jesus.) Got distracted by my husband in the other room as he was trying to sort out Youth Group finances. We always get into a heated argument over yg money. (That “always” is not an exaggeration. Unfortunately.) Mostly because I ALWAYS mess it up. I don’t know WHY my brain can’t keep track of money. 
Drove to the farther-away-of-the-three-local-high-schools to finally have lunch with the other half of our teens. They had been dying to have us there since Christmas. Shame on us. But it was a fun time. And we made to the Middle School as well. I love those kids. and I have a hunch they love. (and Kevin too, of course. But this is about me, I guess.)
Stopped at Wendy’s for lunch because we were starving. Walked right back out of Wendy’s because–get this–they didn’t have any $1.00 items, only $1.34 items. Oh, HECK NO, Wendy’s. Off to Arby’s we went. I got an awesome curly fry that took up most of my curly fry box. 
Pulled into McDonald’s after eating because I wanted a 50 cent cone. My mom told me she saw an ad for 50 cent cones. We pulled into line and pulled right back out. I decided against the idea. I still don’t know if they have 50 cent cones. 
Three fast food restaurants in 30 minutes has to be a record.
Came home and accomplished more packing–the shelves in the closet full of binders and loose paper and other school supplies, the two big book cases in the spare bedroom. 
Had a delicious dinner of the only meal we seem to be eating lately, delightfully referred to as “Mexican Fiesta!” I whip up a batch of fresh salsa and fresh guacamole. And we dig in. That’s it. Tonight, though, I went all out and browned up some 93/7 Ground Turkey. It was delish. 
Ate sherbet (NOT sherbeRt, people! Read the carton!) while watching a 90s flick–Now and Then. One of our teens lent it to me. It was pretty cute. Read some HP. Rambled on in a blog post after getting over the shock of the new Blogger homepage. Went to bed. (Yes I’m seeing into the future now. You’re welcome.) 

The One Where She Feels the Burn

Kevin has been calling me his lobster for the past few days. And not just because we’re each other’s lobsters according to Phoebe. I got myself nice and burnt to a crisp. 
Thursday afternoon, right before leaving for our church’s Annual Conference, I decided to enjoy the sun and a good book. I was reading Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury and found myself pretty riveted. The temperature was just perfect, and I had just enough time to finish the second half of my book–and I wasn’t stopping until the task was completed. 
It was a wonderful two hours (yes TWO hours), until my chest started itching. UH OH. I knew I was burning. Or, more specifically, I was already burnt. 
Sure enough the proof was there. And in very weird ways. I never moved during that two hours, leaving just the FRONT of my shins beat red, along with the FRONT of my arms and chest. Awesome. So much for looking good in the new dresses my husband so lovingly purchased for me.  
I lotioned myself up to keep the itching and stinging pain at bay. It worked. For a little while. Just as we sat down at the evening service, it started again. My skin was on FIRE.
Only a handful of people commented on my “getting a bit of sun.” And by “a handful,” I mean at least 20 different people. Glad I could I could provide a bit of entertainment for the evening. :)
Crossing my fingers and hoping I didn’t just give myself skin cancer. At least I’ll look tan in a few days–at least the front of me will. ;)
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The One with the Colorful Deals

What a gorgeous morning it has been. Cool temperatures. Blue skies. A cute long sleeve light weight orange shirt courtesy of the Girls Clothes Swap. And shorts. And flats. 
But on top of all of that wonderfulness, there were deals to be had at the grocery stores! On my quick trip through my first grocery love, Aldi, I came upon a steal in the meat department. I always check to see if any items are marked with a $1.00 off sticker as it nears its expiration date. Sure enough, I hit the jackpot! Lean Ground Turkey [93/7] with $2.00 off–making it $0.49 a pound! I snagged 6 packages, thankyouverymuch.
My other favorite store is a local farmer’s market with fresh produce up the wazoo. (What the heck is a “wazoo” anyway???) It’s a healthy girl’s paradise! I came home with blackberries for $0.79 per container, 7 limes for $1.00, fresh peaches for $0.69 a pound and lots more!
And then there was a Walmart. The two of us have a love-hate relationship, but it’s mostly love when it comes right down to it. As I was hunting for a new frisbee to replace our broken one (we simply cannot go without a good frisbee in this household!), I came across a colorful display of plastic dinnerware. I thought, “Oh how pretty” and kept on walking. 
But then, in a moment of sheer brilliance, I remembered that in a month I’m going to be in charge of feeding 15+ teenagers for a WEEK while we work and play at Family Camp. HOLY MOLY. Buying the plastic plates (4 for $1.00) and having them wash them after each meal is SO MUCH MORE frugal than buying piles of piles of Styrofoam or paper plates. Amazing! 
It was difficult choosing only five colors–there was also pink, light green and teal available. I would have gone for the pink, but our girls seem to generally loathe it, so I avoided the feminine extreme. 
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In sum, I’m totally stoked about my purchases!